Fitzgerald, Maurice II (1194?-1257) (DNB00)

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FITZGERALD, MAURICE II, Baron of Offaly (1194?–1257), justiciar of Ireland, was born about 1194 (Sweetman, i. 91, 118). His father, Gerald (d. 1204) [q. v.], through whom he was grandson of the great Irish 'conquistador,' Maurice Fitzgerald [q. v.], died towards the end of 1203 (ib. No. 195). His mother is said to have been' Catherine, daughte of Hamo deValois, lord justice of Ireland in 1197' (Earls of Kildare, p. 11; Lodge, i. 59). Though ordered seisin of his father's lands on 5 July 1215, he had not entered into full possession on 19 July 1215, by which time he was already a knight. In December 1226 he was engaged in a lawsuit with the Irish justiciar, Geoffry de Mariscis. In 1232 he was himself appointed to this office (2 Sept.), in succession to Richard Burke, the head of the great house, which for over a century was to be the most powerful rival of the Fitzgeralds (Sweetman, Nos. 793, 1458, 1977).

These were the days of popular discontent against Peter des Roches and the foreign favourites. Maurice, though a vassal of the great constitutional leader, Richard the Earl Marshal, laid waste the earl's Irish lands at the instigation of the king or his councillors. The earl crossed the Channel, induced, so ran the scandal of the day, by forged letters to which Maurice had attached the royal seal. The justiciar, at a conference held on the Curragh of Kildare, offered such terms that the earl preferred battle, though he had but fifteen knights against a hundred and fifty. A desperate attempt on the justiciar's life failed. Earl Richard was defeated, and carried to his own castle at Kildare, then in Maurice's hands (1 April 1234). He died a fortnight later of his wounds, aggravated, says Roger of Wendover, by a physician hired for this purpose by Maurice the justiciar, who was summoned to England to defend his honour. The Archbishop of Canterbury became surety for his safety (24 July), but a reconciliation at Marlborough (21 Sept. 1234) with the new Earl Gilbert was only apparent. Next year the feud was further embittered by the murder, attributed to Earl Gilbert, of Henry Clement, who represented the accused Irish nobles in London. The two barons were not reconciled till the summer of 1240, when Maurice Fitzgerald, hearing that the earl had made his peace with the king, came to London offering to prove his innocence by the judgment of his peers. At Henry's intercession, Gilbert Marshal reluctantly accepted this declaration. Maurice engaged to found a monastery for the soul of the dead man, and in acquittance of his vow is said to have founded the Dominican abbey at Sligo. Matthew Paris's words, when chronicling his death, show that his innocence was never believed (Matt. Paris, iii. 265-6, 273-6, 327, iv. 56-7, v. 62 : Annals of the Four Masters, ii. 272-3; Loch Cé, p. 319; Sweetman, i. 313, 317, 374; Earls of Kildare, p. 12; Oseney Annals, p. 78; Wykes, p. 78; Royal Letters, i. 448, 470, 480; cf. art. Burgh, Richard de, d. 1243).

Roderic O'Conor (d. 1198), king of Connaught, had been succeeded by his brother, Catnap Crobdherg (d. 28 May 1224). On Cathal's death the succession was disputed between the sons of Roderic O'Conor, Turlough and Ædh, and those of Cathal, Ædh, and Felim. After various changes of fortune, in which Richard de Burgh, made justiciar of Ireland 13 Feb. 1228, played a great part, Ædh O'Conor was placed on the throne in 1232. Before the end of 1233 he was displaced by Felim, who destroyed the castles built by Richard de Burgh. In 1235 Maurice and Richard led an army to ravage Connaught, but turned aside to attack Donnchadh O'Briain, prince of Munster. Felim was driven off to O'Domhnaill, while Maurice the justiciar was mustering the spoil at Ardcarna, launching his fleet on the eastern Atlantic, and storming the rock of Loch Cé. The expedition closed when Felim made peace with the justiciar, and was granted the five 'king's cantreds.' Next year Maurice banished Felim again, and supplanted him by his cousin, Brian O'Conor. A great victory at Druimraithe restored Felim to the throne; he once more received the 'king's cantreds' (1237) (Loch Cé, pp. 203-347; Annals of Boyle, p. 44; Ann. Four Masters, sub an.)

In 1238 Maurice was warring in Ulster. With Hugh de Lacy he deposed Domhnall MacLochlainn (d. 1241) from his lordship over the Cenel Eoghain, and Cenel-Conaill in favour of Brian, son of Ædh O'Neill. Domhnall recovered his office next year and maintained it, despite the justiciar's efforts, till his death in 1241. Meanwhile Felim, who had long been suffering from the depredations of the De Burghs, appealed to Henry III for protection. At London (1240) his request was granted, and he returned with orders that Maurice should see that he had justice. Next year Maurice and Felim forced Maelsechlainn O'Domhnaill and the Cenel-Conaill to give hostages. In 1246 he was again in Tir-Conaill, half of which he now gave to Cormac O'Conor. Maelsechlainn renewed his hostages for the other half, but on All Saints' day took his revenge by burning the town near Maurice's castle of Sligo. In 1247 he led an army as far as Sligo and Assaroe (on the Erne), and his retreat was cut off by Maelsechlainn with the Cenel-Conaill and Cenel-Eoghain (3 July). Maurice, by a skilful manoeuvre, won a great victory, in which Maelsechlainn was slain (Loch Cé; Ann. Four Masters).

During the years of his office Maurice had been largely occupied in the attempt to supply Henry III with funds. His salary as justiciar was 500l. a year; but he seems to have left office in debt. In 1233 he was ordered to seize Miloc Castle from Richard de Burgh, and distrain for this noble's debts to the king (February 1234), and was afterwards empowered to take further measures (Royal Letters, i. 410-14). In May 1237 he was bidden to let the earl's friends buy their pardon. The marriage of Henry's sister, Isabella, to the emperor Frederic II brought with it fresh demands, and Maurice was expected to wring a scutage of two marks and a thirtieth from his Irish subjects. He was granted safe-conducts to England in May and July 1234, as well as in 1237 and 1242. He seems to have actually been in England late in 1234 or early in 1235, and perhaps in 1244. He was ordered to provide men, money, provisions, and galleys for the Gascon expedition of 1242. In January 1245 he was bidden to build four wooden towers for the expedition against Wales (Sweetman,i. 302, 304, 313, &c. ; Grace, p. 31). Accompanied by Felim he took a part in this war, in which he seems to have incurred the king's displeasure by putting some of his Irish followers to death in Anglesey. In 1237 the king sent over a commissioner to audit his accounts, and on 4 Nov. 1245 he resigned his office to John Fitzgeoffrey, the son of a previous justiciar (Sweetman, i. 408, 440, &c. ; Grace, p. 31 ; Campion, pp.76-7; Hanmer,p.l91,&c.) Matters were finally compromised by the infliction of a fine of four hundred marks (2 July 1248). This fine Maurice was at first permitted to pay off by instalments ; later the payments were respited (29 April 1250), and finally (10 June 1251) in a great measure remitted (September 1252). In August 1248 Maurice had gone to Gascony on the king's service. In December 1253 he was again summoned to Gascony to take part in the meditated war with the king of Castile. A later brief seems, however, to show that the new justiciar crossed the sea (Loch Cé, p. 405), leaving Maurice as his deputy in Ireland (Sweetman, vol. i. Nos. 305-7, 356-7).

Meanwhile, though no longer justiciar, he had been equally active in Ireland. In 1248 he expelled Roderic O'Canannan from Tir-Conaill. Next year he invaded Connaught to avenge the death of Gerald Mac Feorais, and a little later led an expedition from Munster and Connaught to meet another under the justiciar at Elphin. The united armies deposed Felim O'Conor, setting up his nephew Turlough in his place. Felim was restored by Brian O'Neill and the Cenel-Eoghain in 1250. In the same year, probably in return for Brian's interference in Connaught, Maurice invaded the land of the Cenel-Eoghain, but failed to reduce its lord. In 1253 he made another futile attack upon Brian O'Neill and the Cenel-Eoghain, and two years later he crossed over 'to meet the king of the Saxons' at about the same time as Felim's envoys. The 'Four Masters' represent him as in 1257 accompanying the new lord justice against Godfrey O'Domhnaill, and distinguished himself in a single combat with Godfrey. Matthew Paris, however, seems to put Maurice's death in the beginning of 1257, whereas the 'Irish Annals' date Godfrey's death, which was due to wounds received in this expedition, in 1258. The State Papers show conclusively that he was alive on 8 Nov. 1256, but dead by Christmas 1257 (Loch Cé ; Ann. Four Masters ; Matt. Paris, v. 642 ; Sweetman, ii. 524, 563 ; cf. Dowling, p. 15).

Fitzgerald had served the king long and faithfully. In 1255 Henry wrote to thank him for his strenuous defence of the country. As justiciar he was vigorously engaged in fortifying castles against the Irish ; by 2 Nov. 1236 he had already fortified three, and was bidden to build two more in the coming summer. For their construction he was allowed to draft workmen from Kent (Royal Letters, i. 400 ; Sweetman, p. 352, &c.) On Richard de Burgh's resignation he was empowered to take over all the royal castles, even including the great stronghold of Miloc. When the same noble died his castles were put in Maurice's charge (23 Aug. 1243), and ten years later (3 Aug. 1253) Richard's son, Walter, brought an assize 'mort d'ancestor' against the warden. His deposition from the justiciarship was due to his remissness on the Welsh expedition of 1245; but, adds the chronicler, he bore the disgrace patiently, as since his son's death he had learned to despise the honours of earth (Sweetman; Matt. Paris, iv. 488). In character Maurice was 'miles strenuus et facetus nulli secundus.' 'He lived nobly all his life.' His piety may be seen from his religious foundations : Sligo (Dominican), Ardfert (Franciscan, 1253), and Youghal (Franciscan, 1224) (Matt. Paris, v. 642 ; Loch Cé; Ann. Four Masters, sub an. ; Earls of Kildare). In 1235, when his soldiers were laying Connaught waste, Maurice protected the canons of Trinity on the island of Loch Cé. Later he presented (1242) the hospital of Sligo to the same foundation (Loch Cé, pp. 329, 359), and, according to Clyn (p. 8), he died in the habit of a Franciscan.

Fitzgerald is reckoned the second or third baron of Offaly. This barony he held of the Earl of Pembroke (to whom on 30 May 1240 he was ordered to do homage) or of his heirs. He appears as Lord of Maynooth and Gallos in Decies. According to the later genealogists (Earls of Kildare, p. 15) Fitzgerald's wife was Juliana, daughter of John de Cogan. His eldest son seems to have been Gerald, who predeceased him probably in 1243, and had a son Maurice, who is noticed below. The justiciar's eldest surviving son was Maurice Fitzmaurice [q. v.] (Sweetman, vol. ii. No. 563). Another was probably Thomas MacMaurice (d. 1271, cf. Loch Cé, p. 469), father of John Fitzthomas, the first earl of Kildare [q. v.] Robert Fitzmaurice, who figures so frequently in the Irish documents of the latter half of the thirteenth century, may possibly have been another son.

Maurice Fitzgerald (d. 1268), son of Gerald, the eldest son, inherited the barony of Offaly (Sweetman, vol. ii.) He married Agnes, daughter of William de Valence, uncle of Edward I, and appears to have been drowned in crossing between England and Ireland, 28 July 1268 (Clyn, p. 9; Annals of Ireland, ii. 290, 316; Loch Cé, p. 459; Ann. Four Masters, ii. 404). He must be distinguished from his uncle Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald (d. 1277) [q. v.] He left an infant heir, Gerald Fitzmaurice, aged three and a half years (Sweetman, Nos. 1106, 2163, p. 467, &c.; Book of Howth, p. 324; Dugdale, i. 776). This child was the ward of Thomas de Clare, brother to the Earl of Gloucester, and, by purchase, of William de Valence. In 1285 he, as baron of Offaly in succession to his father, was attacked by the native Irish of the barony. We find this Gerald Fitzmaurice coming of age about 1286 (Sweetman, vol. ii. Nos. 866-7, 957, 970, 1039, &c.; vol. iii. Nos. 29, 238, 456, p. 75, &c.; Abbrev. Plac. pp. 263, 283), and it is probably he to whom Clyn refers (p. 10) in his crucial passage on the Geraldine succession where he says that 'Gerald, filius Mauricii, capitaneus Geraldinorum' died in 1287 and left his inheritance to his grand-uncle's son John Fitzthomas [q. v.] Some genealogists contend that Gerald Fitzmaurice was son of Maurice Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald (d. 1277) [q. v.], the justiciar. But he was clearly that justiciar's grand-nephew.

[The principal authorities for the life of Maurice Fitzgerald are the English State Documents and the contemporary English chroniclers. The Irish documents may be found in Sweetman's Calendar of Irish Documents, vols. i. and ii. (Rolls Series); Rymer's Fœdera, ed. 1720, vol. i. The chief contemporary English chroniclers are Roger of Wendover, ed. Coxe (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Matthew Paris, ed. Luard, vols. iii. iv. v. (Rolls Series); Thomas Wykes, the Oseney Annals, the Dunstable Annals, ap. Riley's Annales Monastici (Rolls Series), vols. iii. iv. Other important contemporary documents are to be found in the Royal Letters, ed. Shirley, vol. i. (Rolls Series); Documents of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland, ed.. Gilbert, vol. i. (Rolls Series). The chief Irish Annals are the Annals of Loch Cé (Rolls Series), vol. i. ed. Hennessy; Annals of Boyle ap. O'Conor's Scriptores Rerum Hibernicarum, vol. ii.; and the collection known as the Annals of the Four Masters, ed. O'Donovan, vol. ii. Then come the Latin-writing Irish chroniclers: Clyn (fl. 1348) (Irish Archæol. Soc.), ed. R. Butler; a fourteenth-century Annales Hiberniæ, with its fifteenth-century continuation and expansion, both cited above as Annals of Ireland, ap. Chartulary of St. Mary's, Dublin, ed. Gilbert, vol. ii. (Rolls Series); the Annals of Jas. Grace (fl. 1537) (Irish Arch. Soc.), ed. Butler. Hanmer's Chronicle of Ireland (c. 1571) and Campion's History of Ireland (1633) may be found reprinted in the Ancient Irish Histories (Dublin, 1809), but are very untrustworthy, as also are Ware's Annals (English edition, 1705); and Cox's Hibernia Anglicana (ed. 1689). The Earls of Kildare, by the Marquis of Kildare (Dublin, 1857), represents the current genealogy of the Fitzgeralds, and is a careful compilation of facts. See, too, Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, 1789, vol. i.; Gilbert's Viceroys of Ireland (Dublin, 1865); and Archdall's Monasticon Hibernicum (editions 1786 and 1873). See also the Book of Howth, ed. Brewer and Bullen, and Hist. and Municipal Documents of Ireland, ed. Gilbert (Rolls Series).]

T. A. A.